Monday, May 08, 2006

Reining In CIA, State Department Freelancers

I don’t know much about outgoing CIA chief Porter Goss or National Security Agency Director John Negroponte or even Gen. Michael V. Hayden, whose name has been floated as the likely nominee for the CIA post, but I do know this: The CIA is in need of a thorough shake-up and housecleaning. As is the State Department.

Right now, we have two opposing forces calling the shots in both organizations; the duly elected president, who is entrusted by our system (and the voters) with policymaking powers, and a bunch of bureaucrat holdovers with a political agenda who seem hell-bent on undermining the president and freelancing in pursuit of their own objectives. No matter where you stand on the Bush Administration, it ought to give you serious pause to know that rogue elements within the CIA and U.S. Department of State are conducting their own private intelligence and diplomatic activity. That is not the way things are supposed to work and it’s dangerous in today’s world.

In addition to a thorough housecleaning, both organizations need operating guidelines and accountability along the lines of the military, which is governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Under the military system, service members are required by law to carry out the legal orders of their commander in chief. They can be prosecuted if they fail to do so. Moreover, the UCMJ, various codes of conduct and the historical subordination of the military to the civilian government have helped create a system of ethical behavior in the armed forces that would discourage the sort of political gamesmanship now being practiced within certain quarters of the CIA and State Department.


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